Legal & Regulatory
By Bradley Dunseith
In Prime Minister Modi’s war against ‘black money’ the Indian government is attempting to tighten up a real estate strategy for tax evasion: Benami properties.
Benami means ‘anonymous’ or ‘without name’ in Hindi. A Benami property refers to property bought in the name of a secondary person so as to conceal the identity of the real buyer. Individuals generally purchase Benami properties in the name of relatives to conceal the extent of their wealth from the government. Real estate developers, on the other hand, buy Benami properties to sidestep stringent land ceilings – using proxy companies to make the actual purchase.
The new Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 ups the maximum punishment for owning Benami properties from the former three years of jail time to the current five years of jail time and a fine. The new Act further allows authorities to permanently confiscate Benami properties without compensation to the former owner.
The federal government of India has reported that 140 cases have already been filed where Benami assets are worth more than US$31 million (Rs 200 crore).
By Vasundhara Rastogi
The Aadhaar card contains a twelve-digit unique identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to all individuals residing in India, regardless of their citizenship. This means it is applicable for non-resident Indians (NRIs) and foreign residents, as well.
According to the Aadhaar Act, 2016, a ‘resident’ is an individual who has resided in India for 182 days or more in total in the previous one year prior to the date of application for Aadhaar. It is therefore applicable to expatriates who reside in India on long-term visas. However, Aadhaar is only meant to serve as a proof of identity and address, and does not equate to Indian citizenship.
By Bradley Dunseith
A physical presence in India is essential to break into the country’s emerging market. But establishing the right kind of presence can mean the difference between success and wasted efforts.
Foreign companies should consider state regulations, physical connectivity, and local costs when choosing a location for their Indian office. Of equal importance is the type of Indian presence foreign companies choose.
India’s Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in conjunction with the Registrar of Companies, allows for several types of offices – Liaison, Branch, and Project – in addition to firms and partnerships for foreign companies hoping to establish themselves.
Here, we run you through a short description of each type as well as their respective benefits and drawbacks.
Indian businesses now cleared for cross-border mergers
In a major push to attract greater foreign direct investment (FDI), the federal government has greenlit cross-border mergers in India if they are approved by the Reserve Bank of India. This means that Indian business entities can now negotiate mergers with foreign companies, after meeting select criteria. The policy shift opens up the merger and acquisitions (M&A) landscape in the country and incentivizes foreign companies to enter the Indian market more aggressively.
India-Cyprus Double Tax Treaty Agreement in force from April 2017
Tax authorities in Cyprus recently confirmed that the ratification procedures supporting the country’s Double Tax Treaty Agreement (DTAA) with India were finalized.
This operationalizes the Treaty for the Avoidance of Double Taxation, which was signed on November 18 last year, following which the DTAA between Cyprus and India came into force on December 14.
By Bradley Dunseith
The Modi government’s win in various state elections last month, including the prized state of Uttar Pradesh, demonstrates the powerful and enduring appeal of the Prime Minister. This is clear as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) projected PM Modi as the face of all its state level campaigns, running on platforms that showcased his ‘proven’ track records.
In the past few months, Modi has managed to win mass favor as he doubled down on his 2016 decision to demonetize the 500 and 1000 currency notes in his ‘fight against black money’. Yet, while his attempts to rebrand India as a global manufacturing and investment hub have garnered global attention, many have been surprised at the slow pace of reforms given Modi’s historic mandate.
In this article, we break down some of the factors that shape India’s current business landscape by identifying what reforms have been passed, the growth of state-based reforms, and the reasons why the federal government has faltered on some of Modi’s more ambitious proposals.
Aadhaar mandatory for filing tax returns from July 1
Providing your Aadhaar number for filing income tax returns (ITR) will be mandatory from July 1. Individuals who do not have an Aadhaar card can file their tax returns by furnishing their Aadhaar enrollment number. Tax authorities have given until June end for people to link their Aadhaar number with their Permanent Account Number (PAN). This means that an ITR where the PAN is not linked with Aadhaar will be considered an invalid filing.
By Dezan Shira & Associates
India is fast emerging as a global trade dynamo with its vast natural resources and huge supply of skilled labor. Undertaking considerable industrial deregulation and other structural reforms, regulators in India recognize that strong exports are critical for overall economic growth and poverty reduction. As such, export-led growth has become a key driver of trade in India – one of the most important trailblazers in the recent enormous expansion of international trade.
Indian trade has grown exponentially over the past few years, with exports rising at a rate well above the pace of growth of worldwide exports. In this atmosphere, opportunities have never been greater, and starting a trading business in India has never been easier.